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Middle Class Without Democracy

Jie Chen


PUBLISHED: 10th July 2014
ISBN: 9780199385614
ANNOTATION:
What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy, based on a probability-sample survey and in-depth interviews of residents in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Xi'an.
Middle Class Without Democracy
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PUBLISHED: 10th July 2014
ISBN: 9780199385614
ANNOTATION:
What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy, based on a probability-sample survey and in-depth interviews of residents in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Xi'an.

Annotation

What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy, based on a probability-sample survey and in-depth interviews of residents in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Xi'an.

Publisher Description

What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy and democratization. Chen's work is based on a unique set of data collected from a probability-sample survey and in-depth interviews of residents in three major Chinese cities, Beijing, Chengdu and Xi'an--each of which represents a distinct level of economic development in urban China-in 2007 and 2008. The empirical findings derived from this data set confirm that (1) compared to other social classes, particularly lower classes, the new Chinese middle class-especially those employed in the state apparatus-tends to be more supportive of the current Party-state but less supportive of democratic values and institutions; (2) the new middle class's attitudes toward democracy may be accounted for by this class's close ideational and institutional ties with the state, and its perceived socioeconomic wellbeing, among other factors; (3) the lack of support for democracy among the middle class tends to cause this social class to act in favor of the current state but in opposition to democratic changes. The most important political implication is that while China's middle class is not likely to serve as the harbinger of democracy now, its current attitudes toward democracy may change in the future. Such a crucial shift in the middle class's orientation toward democracy can take place, especially when its dependence on the Party-state decreases and perception of its own social and economic statuses turns pessimistic. The key theoretical implication from the findings suggests that the attitudinal and behavioral orientations of the middle class-as a whole and as a part-toward democratic change in late developing countries are contingent upon its relationship with the incumbent state and its perceived social/economic wellbeing, and the middle class's support for democracy in these countries is far from inevitable.

Author Biography

Jie Chen is William Borah Distinguished Professor of Political Science, serves as Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at University of Idaho. He also holds the titles of the Changjiang Scholar Chair Professorship and Zhiyuan Chair Professorship bestowed, respectively, by the Ministry of Education, PRC, and by Shanghai Jiaotong University, China. He has authored and co-authored six books, including Popular Political Support in Urban China (Stanford University Press, 2004), and Allies of the State: China's Private Entrepreneurs and Democratic Change (with Bruce Dickson; Harvard University Press, 2010), and many articles, which appeared in scholarly journals, such as Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Public Opinion Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, the China Quarterly, Asian Survey, Modern China, and Journal of Contemporary China.

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Tables and Figures iv Preface vii List of Abbreviations xii

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Contingent Middle Class 1 Chapter 2: China's Middle Class: Definition and Evolution 36 Chapter 3: How Does the Middle Class View Democracy and the Government? 93 Chapter 4: Why Does or Does Not the Middle Class Support Democracy? 130 Chapter 5: The Impact of Democratic Support on the Middle Class's Political Behavior 167 Chapter 6: Conclusion: Contingent Democratic Supporters and Prospects for Democracy 209 Appendix: List of In-Depth Interviews Conducted in Beijing, Chengdu, and Xi'an in 2008 240

References 252 Index 277

Review

"Jie Chen is correct that no topic is more central for the future of US-China relations than understanding the political values and behaviors of the rising generation of college educated professionals and managers. Using extensive survey and interview data from three of China's most important cities, Chen successfully explains the challenges and consequences of engaging this group of 'contingent democratic supporters' into the next phase of China's economic and political transformations." -Deborah Davis, Yale University "This arresting study provides a firm analytical foundation for assessing the chances of leadership by China's emergent middle class in any coming regime shift toward democratization. Chen ingeniously draws on his own probing surveys in three major Chinese cities, and, on the basis of telling distinctions that he establishes between the middle and the lower classes and between state-employed and non-state-employed middle class segments, he is able to answer crucial queries about the circumstances under which, and the likely possibilities for, a critical shift in the stance of this pivotal group in the near term. Everything hinges on the nature of the class's current linkage with and stance toward the state and factors that might alter that. A must-read for anyone concerned about China's political future." -Dorothy Solinger, University of California, Irvine "We learn from this book not just why China's middle class supports the communist regime but also how this could change if its prospects worsen or its ties to the state weaken. This will be mandatory reading in Beijing, and should be elsewhere." - Bruce Gilley, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University and author of China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead "Does China's growing middle class represent a catalyst for democracy? Based on probability sampling of three cities and extensive field research, Jie Chen shows us why the expectations of modernization theory are not borne out by China's experience." -Kellee S. Tsai, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University and author of Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China "Jie Chen has written an accessible contribution to the theoretical debates on the relationship between development and democracy, with findings that are relevant to issues of late and late-late developers, post-Communist transition, and authoritarian states in general, as well as to the crucial questions of the role of middle class in democratic transitions and in China in particular.His findings should make scholars and politicians alike sit up and take notice." -Michelle S. Mood, Kenyon College

Long Description

What kind of role can the middle class play in potential democratization in such an undemocratic, late developing country as China? To answer this profound political as well as theoretical question, Jie Chen explores attitudinal and behavioral orientation of China's new middle class to democracy and democratization. Chen's work is based on a unique set of data collected from a probability-sample survey and in-depth interviews of residents in three major Chinese cities, Beijing, Chengdu and Xi'an--each of which represents a distinct level of economic development in urban China-in 2007 and 2008. The empirical findings derived from this data set confirm that (1) compared to other social classes, particularly lower classes, the new Chinese middle class-especially those employed in the state apparatus-tends to be more supportive of the current Party-state but less supportive of democratic values and institutions; (2) the new middle class's attitudes toward democracy may be accounted for by this class's close ideational and institutional ties with the state, and its perceived socioeconomic wellbeing, among other factors; (3) the lack of support for democracy among the middle class tends to cause this social class to act in favor of the current state but in opposition to democratic changes. The most important political implication is that while China's middle class is not likely to serve as the harbinger of democracy now, its current attitudes toward democracy may change in the future. Such a crucial shift in the middle class's orientation toward democracy can take place, especially when its dependence on the Party-state decreases and perception of its own social and economic statuses turns pessimistic. The key theoretical implication from the findings suggests that the attitudinal and behavioral orientations of the middle class-as a whole and as a part-toward democratic change in late developing countries are contingent upon its with the incumbent state and its perceived social/economic wellbeing, and the middle class's support for democracy in these countries is far from inevitable.

Review Text

"Jie Chen is correct that no topic is more central for the future of US-China relations than understanding the political values and behaviors of the rising generation of college educated professionals and managers. Using extensive survey and interview data from three of China's most important cities, Chen successfully explains the challenges and consequences of engaging this group of 'contingent democratic supporters' into the next phase of China's economic and political transformations." -Deborah Davis, Yale University "This arresting study provides a firm analytical foundation for assessing the chances of leadership by China's emergent middle class in any coming regime shift toward democratization. Chen ingeniously draws on his own probing surveys in three major Chinese cities, and, on the basis of telling distinctions that he establishes between the middle and the lower classes and between state-employed and non-state-employed middle class segments, he is able to answer crucial queries about the circumstances under which, and the likely possibilities for, a critical shift in the stance of this pivotal group in the near term. Everything hinges on the nature of the class's current linkage with and stance toward the state and factors that might alter that. A must-read for anyone concerned about China's political future." -Dorothy Solinger, University of California, Irvine "We learn from this book not just why China's middle class supports the communist regime but also how this could change if its prospects worsen or its ties to the state weaken. This will be mandatory reading in Beijing, and should be elsewhere." - Bruce Gilley, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University and author of China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead "Does China's growing middle class represent a catalyst for democracy? Based on probability sampling of three cities and extensive field research, Jie Chen shows us why the expectations of modernization theory are not borne out by China's experience." -Kellee S. Tsai, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University and author of Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China

Feature

Author was very displeased with promotional efforts at Stanford UP and Harvard UP. To him, it seemed like they weren't doing enough to promote his book. Selling point: based on unique set of data from recent probability-sample surveys and interviews in three major Chinese cities Selling point: includes data from both middle-class and non-middle-class populations, enabling cross-class analysis Selling point: utilizes the 'contingent' approach to analyze the middle class's orientation toward democracy in China

Product Details

Year
2014
ISBN-10
0199385610
ISBN-13
9780199385614
Media
Book
Author
Jie Chen
Pages
240
Subtitle
Economic Growth and the Prospects for Democratization in China
Illustrations
2 figures and 26 tables
Short Title
MIDDLE CLASS W/O DEMOCRACY
Language
English
Audience
Professional and Scholarly
Publication Date
2014-07-10
Country of Publication
United States
Publisher
Oxford University Press Inc